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We were two sides of the same glass

Poetry | Zuihitsu
April 15, 2022

This piece is part of the 随筆 | Zuihitsu notebook, which features original art by Satsuki Shibuya.

To write with a running brush

is beyond me. I write with wire and electricity,


brain a fine mesh, restless mind jumping from word to word.

I like to think.



I like to think a text can multiply itself, grow from something only we know into a strange and infinite present moving around in the world around us.



(Who is this ‘we’ I seem to be?)



Memory’s inventory of abstractions, lists, opinions, dreams, and extracts of other poems makes us ‘us.’



To write is to deconstruct, reassemble. To create a text, I compile a catalog of what to do, think, feel — a catalog of possibility.



There is no such thing as a catalog of what can and cannot be said—only a catalog of what must be understood.



There is no catalog of what to wish or not to wish, but rather of what must be done, and how.


There is no catalog of things. No catalog of anything. But, rather, a catalog of anythings:


Melt, as in the sun.
Melt, as in a pot.
Melt, as in a sentence.


As in catalogs of words.
A sentence can be a paragraph, if it’s long enough.

A painted egg becomes a face.
An unfired clay dish becomes a city under siege.

Known facts:
Your brain can read three times as many books as there are cars
on earth today.
Your eyes see three times as many colors as there are stars
in the sky.
Your heart is five times larger than life itself.

A room with no space to move in.
A man against a mirror, his memory the only thing he sees…


When I was young, I thought the world was mine for the taking… I remember how much I loved to hear myself think, to know I was thinking the right thing at the right moment, that I was thinking of the right thing in the right way.



I remember thinking I was clever enough to fool all the people I cared about. Clever enough to fool myself.



I remember thinking.



I remember telling myself I was good at going to parties, good at making friends, good at making up stories. I remember telling myself I was good at taking care of myself. I told myself I was good at loving. I remember. I am good at remembering. Remembering is loving.



As in: I loved you. So much so that there was only one word that could do the job better, but when I wrote it down, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to say. What does that say about me as a human being?



You loved me, too — right? We only existed inside each other, like two sides of a mirror. We were both very beautiful. We were two sides of the same glass, glass and metal, plastic and glass, and in between there was this other side we could not touch. That side was us.



As in: the beginning.



We were both running. Our fingers brushed.


Author’s Note: This poem is the product of an intimate collaboration between me and my AI-powered alter ego, a custom-trained version of a language model that uses deep learning to create original, human-sounding text. Our writing process often begins with compiling a training data set that reflects specific information and inspiration, focusing the machine’s poetic mind via lists of sample inputs and completions. Then I prompt my co-author with “seed” words and phrases that trigger responses which in turn become new prompts, and so on. The resulting outputs are a kind of cybernetic zuihitsu—each thought directly eliciting the next, styles and forms shifting without warning to create an uncannily poetic cascade of words tethered deep down by algorithmic associations, semantic patterns, and augmented imagination.